Jeroen Knaven 5

How did I get here?

I’ve been in the manufacturing industry my entire career. Both my father and father-in law were in this line of work and it was they who encouraged me. Some 35 years and four companies later…I’m really glad they did. I joined Corbion eleven years now and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

What do I do?

I lead a team of around 10 process operators at our plant in the Netherlands, where we make a range of products from lactic acid to calcium lactate to Purac powder. My responsibility covers production, maintenance, planning…pretty much anything you can think of to ensure that the product is produced on time, in full – and safely. Sure, there are lots of daily tasks that need to be taken care of. But I’m also given freedom in my role to get the job done, which of course doesn’t happen without a great team alongside me. I try to avoid the conventional ‘boss-worker’ relationship. I’m always willing to roll my sleeves up and help them on the factory floor when needed; and I try to encourage everyone to contribute ideas and opinions on how we can all keep improving. I preserve what matters, the well-being of my team through collaboration.

Going the extra mile

Well, it’s a 24-7, 365 operation that we run here so there is never any let-up. When one shift ends we always have a 30-minute handover with the next team covering all issues that have (or might) occur. What has made me especially proud is how we deal with new challenges, like installing a new product line. Corbion needs to keep innovating, and the effect on manufacturing is that we need to bring in new equipment, new ingredients and processes to manufacture these new products. In recent times we’ve got new product lines up and running here in two months after the equipment was placed, which is a real testament to the skill and motivation of the teams involved.

The future

My number one focus will continue to be on safety. Our people deserve to finish their shift and return home safely every day. On a personal note, I always try and undertake one piece of new studying every year, just to stay up to-date with events in our industry (even after 35 years there’s still plenty to learn). I have a wife and four kids to look after, so this sometimes takes a little longer than planned…!

Jeroen Knaven, Maintenance Scheduler and Team Lead ITF Ops, LAD Operations, Corbion The Netherlands